Chelsea upsetting in 2-1 home defeat against Crystal Palace
The Premier League returned with quite an exhibition as Chelsea lost their second game of the year against an unlikely source of Sam Allardyce’s Crystal Palace in a poor 2-1 defeat.
Chelsea began the game with good pace and energy, like none of the players had played during the international break, and scored the opening goal inside the first five minutes! A dream start for the Blues!
Cesc Fabregas played a terrific long ball forward for Eden Hazard on the left, who squared up Joel Ward on the left-hand side of the area before firing a low cross for the Spaniard who easily tapped in from close-range. Five minutes on the clock and the Blues had already taken their sights on a victory.
The early lead made Chelsea look very comfortable, but it didn’t turn out to be a good thing as the visitors were not looking to settle for such a poor beginning. After just five more minutes following Fabregas’ goal, Palace had turned the game all-around for a 2-1 lead for the visitors.
Wilfried Zaha turned off from three Chelsea defenders on the edge of the area before rifling a low finish into the bottom corner of the net from between the legs of Alonso, leaving Courtois with no chance for the ball. 1-1 after nine minutes of play – and more was coming.
Soon after the equalizer Gary Cahill failed the offside trap as David Luiz and N’Golo Kante ran against each other, letting Zaha and Christian Benteke operate a smooth counter which eventually led to another Palace goal, with the Belgian striker chipping the ball past his countryman between the sticks.
An amazing turnaround inside the first quarter of an hour, but unfortunately in the expense of the Blues.
Conte’s men were shocked, but soon again irresistible on the ball. Palace were struggling to keep away the Blues’ striking force and could’ve count themselves lucky for not losing their lead right away. A slick corner kick tactic from Hazard set up Pedro for a shot, which was blocked from the goal-line by the hand of Andros Townsend. However, the ref somehow missed it and no penalty was given despite the appeals.
On the 20th minute mark Chelsea came close again as Costa’s volley was denied by a terrific reflex save from Wayne Hennessey. A very wide and open game which Chelsea were in full control – but against all odds – behind of.
Eden Hazard had seemingly read the speculation of a big-money move to Real Madrid too, as his performance was something that the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo also would provide. Unbelievable pace and control on the ball, wonderful passes and dribbles, basically giving the club a proof why he deserves a new contract should he stay at Stamford Bridge. Really, really hoping for him to stay.
The first half was completely in Chelsea’s charge, but the scoreline was against the rest of the stats. As the first period came to a close, the Blues players entered the tunnels in a trailing position – for the first time at home since their 2-1 defeat against Liverpool in September.
The second half resumed in control of the hosts, with Palace turning on the breaks looking to waste as much as time on set-pieces and lounge long balls forward.
Chelsea kept finding all sorts of ways to break into the Palace half – and sometimes even the penalty area – but poor finishing always turned out to be the main worry. Best of the earlier chances came for the Spanish goal machine, as Diego Costa was well found by Pedro on the 56th minute, but he should’ve went for the first-time header instead of taking the ball down for a half-volley as his effort was quickly blocked. Scott Dann, the blocker of the shot, also twisted his knee to force the player be carried away on a stretcher.
Willian came on for the Blues on the hour-mark as the first substitution from Antonio Conte, as Nemanja Matic stepped away from the pitch to let the Blues move into the more favoured 3-4-3 formation.
Palace came close for a third after the little spell of substitutions, as Gary Cahill failed the offside trap once again allowing Zaha on a breakaway, where the Ivory Coast international fortunately failed to find the net as Courtois saved the day with a stunning leg-save.
With just 20 minutes on the clock and Palace leaving more and more men down to defence, Chelsea players and fans started to grow slightly more frustrated with the game. The visitors also showed their attacking threat from set-pieces, as poor discipline led to some poor fouls at the back.
After 72 minutes of play Chelsea turned on the full attacking shift, as Conte subbed on yet another striker, this time Michy Batshuayi. Having Hazard, Willian, Pedro, Costa and the 23-year-old Belgian on the pitch at the same time, an equalizer should be guaranteed.
However, it wasn’t as easily done as thought to be done, as despite bolstering the attack with strikers and wingers, it just didn’t set up for the Blues. Diego Costa, Gary Cahill and Batshuayi all came close for a goal, but no mater how good the delivery was, the conversion was never there. It was simply a crossing practice the second half.
As many as eleven added minutes were played on top of the 90 minutes, but the Blues were still unable to find the needed equalizer, and Crystal Palace successfully held on to their 2-1 lead. Chelsea’s lead on top of the table is now cut down to just seven points, as Tottenham Hotspur recorded a victory over Burnley meanwhile.
Chelsea have no one but themselves to be blamed for for the defeat – even though there was a clear penalty and a red card dismissed – and there’s no other object now than to bounce back before the margin at the top gets any smaller… COME ON CHELSEA!